marketing specialists vs full service

June 24, 2016

When it comes to launching a marketing campaign, are you better off using specialists or a full service, marketing agency?

To put this into context let’s define what I mean by a marketing agency. It’s not an advertising agency, even though there’s often an overlap. An ad agency is usually advertising centric and channels its resources toward creating advertising campaigns. But advertising is just one part of the marketing mix.

A marketing agency is one that offers a range of capabilities specifically geared to the marketing of products or services. It takes a more holistic view, is focused on overall outcomes, and uses the best-suited media or communication channels to achieve those outcomes within your budget.

So, when you need marketing support, do you go to a marketing agency or a specialist? There’s an argument for each.

Where a campaign is substantial and heavily reliant on one channel, say digital advertising or social media, then it’s worth considering one or more of the specialist agencies. They usually focus only on their particular channel specialty and are hugely valuable when dealing with very large campaigns. Specialists are often used by the major brands to provide them with the firepower they need.

If you’re running a multi-channel campaign, as most campaigns are today, then you have to weigh up the merits of coordinating several different specialist agencies. Or you can deal with one of the large integrated agencies that have the required resources. Coordinating a variety of specialists can be both time consuming, and difficult as it sometimes creates logistics and communication challenges. On the other hand, dealing with a large agency has its own issues especially dealing with the hierarchy, but it should give you a single point of control. Whichever way you go, neither of these options is cheap. That’s the reason why they are usually big brand territory.

So what’s the alternative? If your budget doesn’t stretch to the big end of town but you still need a hands-on, holistic approach to your marketing you might consider a smaller agency, one that provides a comprehensive service to cater for most of your needs. Many of these smaller agencies will have their own strategists, brand and creative people, and a variety of channel specialists.

The advantage here is that you will most likely be assigned a single point of contact who is an experienced marketer and who will coordinate all of the agency’s personnel that are working on your campaign. This single point of contact will make your life very much easier and it will ensure that everybody at the agency is pulling in the same direction when it comes to delivering your campaign. A smaller agency doesn’t have the overheads of a large one and usually has a limited hierarchy so the communication lines are much shorter. As a result they are often more efficient and will generally make your budget work much harder.

If you decide to go that way, there are many small and medium size agencies to choose from. When it comes to making a selection, check them out, have a look at what they’ve done, and if that’s looking good, go and meet them to see if they’re the right fit for you. Often your choice will be influenced by the availability of your own internal resources and the budget you have to invest.

At em creative/digital, we’re one of these medium size agencies. We work across a variety of industries and focus on delivering effective marketing solutions across multiple media. For more information visit our services page and see if we might be the right fit.

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